“…Frodo kept up the custom of giving Bilbo’s Birthday Party year after year until they got used to it. He said that he did not think Bilbo was dead. When they asked: ‘Where is he then?’ he shrugged his shoulders.” (LotR 41)
Today, like the hobbits of his famous literary work, we celebrate the birth of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on January 3, 1892. Like the hobbits of the Shire, one might wonder why. Tolkien has been dead since 1973, almost forty years ago. ‘Where is he then?’ would seem a valid question. And we readers might shrug like Frodo, even though in our hearts we know he yet lives.
He lives and breathes in the writings which were his life work. He lives on in the land of Faerie, which he so lovingly explored and revealed to each of us. He lives in the passion and excitement of each fan who has felt the excitement and chill of fear on beholding the Balrog of Moria, the awe of Valinor or the crushing sadness of the First Age.
Today we celebrate the Professor, without whom we would have missed the invitation, and remained wandering in this bleak world without the shimmers of Truth he would bring to it.
“By the starlit mere of Cuiviénen, Water of Awakening, they rose from the sleep of Ilúvatar; and while they dwelt yet silent by Cuiviénen their eyes beheld first of all things the stars of heaven. Therefore they have ever loved the starlight…” (Silarmillion 48)
So like the hobbits, let us all raise a glass to the Professor, may his works always inflame our hearts and minds with wonder.